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2012 Breakout Seasons and Spring Training Slugging
Nate Springfield | Monday March 26th, 2012
At age 28, Chris Young may be ready for a career year. (Icon SMI)
At age 28, Chris Young may be ready for a career year. (Icon SMI)
In February, I wrote an article discussing how some spring training stats can mean something and may give an advantage heading into fantasy baseball drafts.  This week is one of the busiest fantasy baseball draft weeks of the season, so it's a good time to take a look at potential breakout players, according to Jon Dewan's Spring Training Slugging Percentage Indicator.

As outlined in the mentioned article, the criteria for finding these players is rather simple.  Given 40 or more spring training at-bats, if a player with at least 200 career major league at-bats posts a slugging percentage at least 200 points higher than his career slugging percentage, he is poised for a breakout year.

This group of players fit perfectly into the criteria as of the end of play on Sunday March 24th.

Name ST at-bats ST Slug% Career Slug% Difference
Travis Snider - Blue Jays
Dan Uggla - Braves
Melky Cabrera - Giants
Alex Gordon - Royals
Erick Aybar - Angels
Delmon Young - Tigers
Billy Butler - Royals
Joe Mather - Cubs
44 .818
Jemile Weeks - Athletics
Manny Burris - Giants
Chris Young - Diamondbacks

This year's list is much smaller than last, but there were two players that just missed the cut.  Brandon Belt was left off this list even though he had a plus-.248 slugging percentage because he only has 187 career major league at-bats.  Lorenzo Cain is in the similar situation, owning a plus-.530 slugging percentage, but has only 169 major league at-bats.  It is also worth mentioning that the top name on our list, Travis Snider, was optioned to Triple-A on Monday morning.  Even though he had a very strong spring, he should not be bumped up in your draft rankings.  With so many players receiving fewer at-bats this spring than last, it may be worth checking the stat lines later this week if you are drafting this weekend.

This method has successfully predicted breakout seasons for hitters at a 60 percent rate over the past six seasons.  A 60 percent rate may not sound too high, but many other methods for projecting the outcome of player performance at season's end usually sit closer to 30 percent. 

It's worth noting the above names if you are looking to take a flier at the end of the draft, or simply want a reason to go an extra dollar on a guy when the bidding stalls in an auction draft.
Nate SpringfieldNate Springfield joined the Baseball Press crew for the 2010 season and hosts the site's podcast. His love for the game has grown thanks to fantasy baseball, with a specialty in NL-only auction leagues. You can contact him at nate@baseballpress.com or follow him on Twitter @NateSpringfield.